When You’re Strange

There’s no right way to compose music; but there’s no wrong way, either. If there were, my methods would certainly sway towards flawed territory. I’ve perplexed others before with my reluctance to compose music in silence. I like to have some sort of music on while writing, or even better, the TV. I guess I crave a certain zeitgeist-ness embedded in those airwaves that I hope sinks into my own work via osmosis.

My habits and superstitions continue through the premiere and even beyond. When I attend or participate in a performance of my work, I always don my absolute finest designer underwear. Weird, I know—but hey, some people have lucky socks, I’ve got lucky knickers. And I certainly wouldn’t want failure racked-up to some laundry fiasco before the gig even gets underway.

My final quirk is my unwillingness to revise anything I’ve written. I’ll certainly add something to a finished piece if need be, but I never change, say, a note here and there or delete an entire passage or anything like that. Using an eraser is never an option. I’m a huge believer in first instincts and happy mistakes, or maybe I’m just lazy. Either way, it’s a good thing that no two composers work in exactly the same way. What are some of your compositional rituals and anomalies?

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5 thoughts on “When You’re Strange

  1. Trevor

    I always like to compose on the subway. In fact, the more crowded it is, the more productive I feel.

    On the other hand, I don’t have any lucky undergarments for anything…

    Reply
  2. subbasshead

    I like to burn incense, have a shower & wear different clothes (although not at the same time)
    when i switch modes from ‘working’ in my studio to ‘creating’ in my studio… rituals = good

    Reply
  3. pgblu

    I also like to have a candle burning in my room (albeit unscented) while I work. It helps concentration enormously.

    But now I understand I’m not allowed to do this in my office at school, which makes me a lot more unproductive. I missed a deadline? Blame it on fire codes.

    Reply
  4. JKG

    No right way…
    to compose music; but there’s a lot of limitations with respect to writing GREAT music for a particular audience. Of course, then there’s those who think mediocrity is great, so perhaps there really is no wrong way to write music either.

    Reply
  5. MikeShanley

    Generally, I compose until I get to the point where I can’t bear to change anything else–for fear it will not be what it is anymore.

    But at that point, I won’t make revisions. The fact that I compose for synthesized orchestra might make the difference though. I finish ‘composing’ when I finish ‘recording’.

    Reply

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